Lauren Booth: “Now That I’m Muslim, I Will Never Have My Breasts Out in Public Again.”

Vapid terror-supporter Lauren Booth has opened up further about her conversion to Islam.

And as suspected, her conversion seems to have been triggered more by her love of palestinians and her “daddy” issues than anything else.

lauren booth muslimIt is the most peculiar journey of my life. The carriage is warm and my fellow passengers unexpectedly welcoming. We are progressing ­rapidly and without delay. Rain, snow, rail unions, these things make no difference to the forward rush.

Yet I have no idea how I came to be on board nor, stranger still, quite where the train is heading, apart from this: the destination, wherever it might be, is the most important place I can imagine.

I know this all seems gloriously far-fetched, but really it is how I feel about my conversion, announced last week, to Islam.

Although the means and ­mechanisms that brought me to this point remain mysterious, the decision will determine every aspect of my life to come as firmly as the twin rails beneath that exhilarating express.

Asked for a simple explanation of how I, an English hack journalist, a ­single working mother, signed up to the Western media’s least-favourite religion, I suppose I would point to an intensely spiritual experience in an Iranian mosque just over a month ago.

But it makes more sense to go back to January 2005, when I arrived alone in the West Bank to cover the elections there for The Mail on Sunday. It is safe to say that before that visit I had never spent any time with Arabs, or Muslims.

The whole experience was a shock, but not for the reasons I might have expected. So much of what we know about this part of the world and the people who follow Mohammed the Prophet is based on ­disturbing – some would say biased – news bulletins.

So, as I flew towards the Middle East, my mind was full of the usual 10pm buzz­words: radical extremists, fanatics, forced marriages, suicide bombers and jihad. Not much of a travel brochure.

My very first experience, though, could hardly have been more positive. I had arrived on the West Bank without a coat, as the Israeli airport authorities had kept my suitcase.

Walking around the centre of Ramallah, I was shivering, whereupon an old lady grabbed my hand.

Talking rapidly in Arabic, she took me into a house on a side street. Was I being kidnapped by a rather elderly terrorist? For several confusing minutes I watched her going through her daughter’s wardrobe until she pulled out a coat, a hat and a scarf.

I was then taken back to the street where I had been walking, given a kiss and sent warmly on my way. There had been not a single comprehensible word exchanged between us.

It was an act of generosity I have never forgotten, and one which, in various guises, I have seen repeated a hundred times. Yet this warmth of spirit is so rarely represented in what we read and see in the news.

Over the course of the next three years I made numerous journeys to the occupied lands which were once historic Palestine (pray tell, when was there ever a “historic Palestine” – ed.) At first I went on ­assignments; as time went by, I started travelling in solidarity with charities and pro-Palestinian groups.

I felt challenged by the hardships ­suffered by Palestinians of all creeds. It is important to remember there have been Christians in the Holy Land for 2,000 years and that they too are suffering under Israel’s illegal occupation (yet no word from Booth on Christian suffering at the hands of Muslims -ed.)

Gradually I found expressions such as ‘Mashallah!’ (a phrase of gratitude meaning ‘God has willed it’) and ‘Al Hamd­illilah!’ (akin to ‘Halle­lujah’) creeping into my everyday speech. These are exclamations of delight derived from the 100 names of God, or Allah. Far from being nervous of Muslim groups, I started looking forward to meeting them. It was an opportunity to be with people of intelligence, wit and, above all else, kindness and generosity.

I’m going to take a break here to pray for ten minutes as it’s 1.30pm. (There are five prayers each day, the times varying throughout the year depending on the rising and setting of the sun.) (this conversion is not for show is it? – ed.)

I was in no doubt that I had embarked on a change of political understanding, one in which Palestinians became families rather than terror suspects, and Muslim cities communities rather than ‘collateral damage’.

But a religious journey? This would never have occurred to me. Although I have always liked to pray and, since childhood, have enjoyed the stories of Jesus and the more ancient prophets that I had picked up at school and at the Brownies, I was brought up in a very secular household.

It was probably an appreciation of Muslim culture, in partic­ular that of Muslim women, that first drew me towards a broader appreciation of Islam.

How strange Muslim women seem to English eyes, all covered up from head to toe, sometimes walking behind their husbands (although this is far from universally the case), with their children around their long skirts.

By contrast, professional women in Europe are happy to make the most of their appearance. I, for example, have always been proud of my lovely blonde hair and, yes, my cleavage (I think I am going to be sick -ed.)

It was common working practice to have this on display at all times because so much of what we sell these days has to do with our appearance.

Yet whenever I have been invited to broadcast on television, I have sat watching in wonder as the female presenters spend up to an hour on their hair and make- up, before giving the serious ­topics under discussion less than 15 minutes’ attention. Is this liber­ation? I began to wonder just how much true respect girls and women get in our ‘free’ society.

In 2007 I went to Lebanon. I spent four days with female ­university students, all of whom wore the full hijab: belted shirts over dark trousers or jeans, with no hair on show. They were charming, independent and outspoken company. They were not at all the timid, soon-to-be-forced-into-marriage girls I would have imagined from what we often read in the West.

At one point they accompanied me to interview a sheikh who was also a commander with the Hezbollah militia. I was pleasantly surprised by his attitude to the girls. As Sheikh Nabil, in turban and brown flowing robes, talked intriguingly of a prisoner swap, they started butting in. They felt free to talk over him, to put a hand up for him to pause while they translated. (fawning over a terrorist? Check! – ed.)

In fact, the bossiness of Muslim women is something of a joke that rings true in so many homes in the community. You want to see men under the thumb? Look at many Muslim husbands more than other kinds. (Notice how she talks of men under the thumb, but ignores women under the fist – ed.)

Indeed, just yesterday, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia rang me and only half-jokingly introduced himself as ‘my wife’s husband’.

Something else was changing, too. The more time I spent in the Middle East, the more I asked to be taken into mosques. Just for touristy reasons, I told myself. In fact I found them fascinating.

Free of statues and with rugs instead of pews, I saw them rather like a big sitting room where ­children play, women feed their families pitta bread and milk and grandmothers sit and read the Koran in wheelchairs. They take their lives into their place of worship and bring their worship into their homes.

Then came the night in the Iran­ian city of Qom, beneath the golden dome of the shrine of Fatima Mesumah (the revered ‘Learned Lady’). Like the other women pilgrims, I said Allah’s name several times while holding on to the bars of Fatima’s tomb.

When I sat down, a pulse of sheer spiritual joy shot through me. Not the joy that lifts you off the ground, but the joy that gives you complete peace and contentment. I sat for a long time. Young women gathered around me talking of the ‘amazing thing happening to you’.

I knew then I was no longer a tourist in Islam but a traveller inside the Ummah, the community of Islam that links all believers.

At first I wanted the feeling to go, and for several reasons. Was I ready to convert? What on earth would friends and family think? Was I ready to moderate my behaviour in many ways?

And here’s the really strange thing. I needn’t have worried about any of these things, because somehow becoming a Muslim is really easy – although the prac­ticalities are a very different ­matter, of course (yes, ask those who have been forced to convert or die -ed.)

For a start, Islam demands a great deal of study, yet I am mother to two children and work full-time. You are expected to read the Koran from beginning to end, plus the thoughts and findings of imams and all manner of spiritually enlightened people. Most people would spend months, if not years of study before making their declaration.

People ask me how much of the Koran I’ve read, and my answer is that I’ve only covered 100 pages or so to date (wow, had only covered 60 pages last week. Progress! – ed.), and in translation. But before anyone sneers, the verses of the Koran should be read ten lines at a time, and they should be recited, considered and, if possible, committed to memory. It’s not like OK! magazine.

This is a serious text that I am going to know for life. It would help to learn Arabic and I would like to, but that will also take time.

I have a relationship with a ­couple of mosques in North London, and I am hoping to make a routine of going at least once a week. I would never say, by the way, whether I will take a Sunni or a Shia path. For me, there is one Islam and one Allah.

Adopting modest dress, however, is rather less troublesome than you might think. Wearing a headscarf means I’m ready to go out more quickly than before. I was blushing the first time I wore it loosely over my hair just a few weeks ago.

Luckily it was cold outside, so few people paid attention. Going out in the sunshine was more of a challenge, but this is a tolerant country and no one has looked askance so far.

A veil, by the way, is not for me, let alone something more substantial like a burka. I’m making no criticism of women who choose that level of modesty. But Islam has no expectation that I will adopt a more severe form of dress.

Predictably, some areas of the Press have had a field day with my conversion, unleashing a torrent of abuse that is not really aimed at me but a false idea of Islam.

But I have ignored the more negative comments. Some people don’t understand spirituality and any discussion of it makes them frightened. It raises awkward questions about the meaning of their own lives and they lash out.

One of my concerns is professional. It is easy to get pigeonholed, particularly if I continue to wear a headscarf. In fact, based on the experience of other female converts, I’m wondering if I will be treated as though I have lost my mind.

I’ve been political all my life, and that will continue. I’ve been involved in pro-Palestinian activism for a number of years, and don’t expect to stop. Yet Britain is a more tolerant country than, say, France or Germany.

I’m well aware that there are plenty of Muslim women who have great success on television and in the Press, and wear modest but decidedly Western dress.

This is hardly a choice for me, though. I am a newcomer, still getting to grips with the basic tenets. My relationship with Islam is different. I am in no position to say that some bits of my new-found faith suit me and that some bits I’ll ignore.

There is a more profound uncertainty about the future, too. I feel changes going on in me every day – that I’m becoming a different person. I wonder where that will end up. Who will I be?

I am fortunate in that my most important relationships remain strong. The reaction from my non-Muslim friends has been more curious than hostile. ‘Will it change you?’ they ask. ‘Can we still be your friend? Can we go out drinking?’

The answer to the first two of those questions is yes. The last is a big happy no.

As for my mother, I think she is happy if I’m happy. And if, coming from a background of my father’s alcoholism, I’m going to avoid the stuff, then what could be better?

Growing up in an alcoholic household with a dad who was violent, has left a great gap in my life. It is a wound that will never heal and his remarks about me are very hurtful.

We haven’t seen each other for years, so how can he know anything about me or have any valid views about my conversion? I just feel sorry for him. The rest of my family is very supportive.

My mum and I had a difficult relationship when I was growing up, but we have built bridges and she’s a great support to me and the girls.

When I told her I had converted, she did say: ‘Not to those nutters. I thought you said Buddhism!’ But she understand now and accepts it.

And, as it happens, giving up alcohol was a breeze. In fact I can’t imagine tasting alcohol ever again. I simply don’t want to.

This is not the time for me to be thinking about relationships with men, either. I’m recovering from the breakdown of my marriage and am now going through a divorce.

So I’m not looking and am under no pressure to look.

If, when the time came, I did consider remarrying, then, in accordance with my adopted faith, the husband would need to be Muslim.

I’m asked: ‘Will my daughters be Muslim?’ I don’t know, that is up to them. You can’t change someone’s heart. But they’re certainly not hostile and their reaction to my surprising conversion was perhaps the most telling of all.

I sat in the kitchen and called them in. ‘Girls, I have some news for you,’ I began. ‘I am now a Muslim.’ They went into a ­huddle, with the eldest, Alex, saying: ‘We have some questions, we’ll be right back.’

They made a list and returned. Alex cleared her throat. ‘Will you drink alcohol any more?’

Answer: No. The response – a rather worrying ‘Yay!’

‘Will you smoke cigarettes any more?’ Smoking isn’t haram (for­bidden) but it is harmful, so I answered: ‘No.’

Again, this was met with puritanical approval. Their final question, though, took me aback.  ‘Will you have your breasts out in public now you are a Muslim?’ (I think I just lost my breakfast – ed.)

What??

It seems they’d both been embarrassed by my plunging shirts and tops and had cringed on the school run at my pallid cleavage. Perhaps in hindsight I should have cringed as well.

‘Now that I’m Muslim,’ I said, ‘I will never have my breasts out in public again.’

‘We love Islam!’ they cheered and went off to play. And I love Islam too.

Of course, I am not a fan, but I will say that if it means we are not subjected to Booth’s cleavage, that is certainly one positive to come out of this quickie conversion.

About Aussie Dave

An Aussie immigrant to Israel, Aussie Dave is founder and managing editor of Israellycool, one of the world's most popular pro-Israel blogs (and the one you are currently reading) He is a happy family man, and a lover of steak, Australian sports and girlie drinks

Facebook Comments

  • Verity

    If it is not genetalia it is breasts. The obsession hasn’t changed since the medieval founder. When they asked if she would show her breasts it was actually wishful thinking on their part. Does Lauren know she is not allowed tight fitting clothing over her boobies too? You can leave nothing to the perverts imagination.

  • Edward

    Hey Lauren,

    As a newly minted Muslima, go the full monty and “submit” to the FGM – Female Genital Mutilation – and don’t forget your daughters too.

  • mina

    true women christian also never have her breasts out in public bible say that

  • Kendra

    wow, this article was insulting on many levels. the sardonic comments from the person putting their opinion into the article sickened me because I have always thought that level of cynicism and all around demeaning attitude would have been left behind once we all became adults. The women writing the article clearly has a huge appreciation for Islamic culture and might over exaggerate things but who cares if she has found happiness in covering her breasts, the world would be a better place if more women allowed themselves to be respected for their minds and not their body. Her facts are not on point and the mention of the conflicted west bank should have been left out or at least fact checked, but the point of this article is for this women to comment on her conversion. So why are you insulting a whole religion as if she was the sole person who practiced the religion. Should all Christians hate Jews because of Jesus? and those that do, are they right in feeling a sense of entitlement in those feelings? Do all Jews hate Muslims? couldn’t there be the possibility of an interfaith dialogue were we all agree to disagree but at the very least respect one another? I am a recently converted Muslim woman, and I am proud to say that and I am proud to say that as I see it this religion is about love, but sadly there are many conflicts over the centuries, which usually involve land, that have caused one religion or another to be blamed or labeled as bad. I do not pretend to have the answer to end the conflict the Palestinian
    and Jewish people experience on a day to day basis, I only know that hate begets more hate, and in this case that is the last thing we as a global community need.

  • Proudscalawag

    She sounds like SUCH a nauseating ‘noble savage’ freak!!!

  • Dave

    occupied lands which were once historic Palestine (pray tell, when was there ever a “historic Palestine” – ed.). Yes, there was. It covered present day Jordan, Israel and the “West Bank” and was ruled by the Ottomans. Jews lived all over it. Then Britain took it over under the Mandate and issued identity cards to everyone. Jews were identified on them as Palestinians, the Arabs as Arabs! Yes, the Jews of the area were the original Palestinians, not the Arabs, and yes, the land is occupied, not by the Jews, who were the original Palestinians, but by the Arabs, who through pogroms in the 1920s and 30s and war in the 1940s, first stole most of the land and then even the name Palestinian.

    • BRUSQUE

      early 19th century world map , look ! , there was no Israel !

      • Cpt_Justice

        How predictable of you to ignore all history before that – as well as the facts *just laid out to you*. IOW, like most of your ilk, you aren’t *replying* to a post so much as just sounding off.

  • BethesdaDog

    Yet, Muslims have a big interest in porn. I have seen statistics on which countries visit porn sites, and the most deprived and repressed countries, like Saudi Arabia, as I recall, have a very high rate of accessing porn sites. Or else, they’re going to be turning to their donkeys.

  • BethesdaDog

    Might be true, but Judaism, at least as espoused by some, has a healthy approach to sex. Look at the writings of Shmueley Boteach, but he advocates passion inside a marriage, which is the most healthy.

    It is also trues that there have been Jews involved in the porn industry, particularly in production and distribution, but also some performers, like Harry Reems, Ron Jeremy and Nina Hartley.

    Incidentally, I do not oppose porn, and believe it can be a healthy outlet. I do not believe in exploitation, however, if it occurs.

    • Cpt_Justice

      Judaism is sex-positive; the more religious a Jew is, the more anti-porn s/he will be; the more liberal a Jew is, the more *pro*-porn. Like many things *within* Jewish law itself, Jewish views on just about any subject can be very reflexive.

  • BethesdaDog

    Is this another looney Brit?

    Hey Dave–I understand that Britain sent all its criminals, misfits and ne’er-do-wells to Australia…now, how come the saner people are in Australia and the loons are in Britain?

    One last question: to anybody who saw them before the embargo: were they (the breasts, I mean) worth seeing? Did I miss anything?

  • eternalking4ever

    does she understand the foundations of islam?…i think not…and she was worried about exposing part of her breasts?…..go study what your leader did and was Lauren.

  • Tarish Basheer

    fuckisrael fuckisrahell the true cancer of the world insha allah some countres will wipeof them from earth pretty soon

    • Jeff

      Fuck off, moozie shit stain. You’ve lost every single war your wicked people have ever declared on Israel, and you’re going to lose every single one in the future. This mental illness you call ‘Allah’ has been, and will continue to be, your true worst enemy.

  • Mia003

    Hey Lauren I can still see your breast in that tight asss shirt. I can still see your hair too. You don’t have to show your breast to not be Muslim you loser and I can still see yours anyway. She sure does have some issues. I’m sure she doesn’t really think Muhammad is a prophet and believe in that BS in Quran. She just wants attention that’s why she is doing these interviews. No one cares go away losers.

  • BRUSQUE

    she is in the group of intelligent people , she has upgraded herself , Christianity grade 2 , islam grade 10 , i have read the bible but i have found so many mistakes especially mathematical , and there is nothing in the bible regarding cleanliness , most of it is about incest , rape, loot , murder, especially killing of babies for verification go on you-tube : mr.dennis mckinsey , mr.edward tarte[ex preacher] , mr.y.estes [ex deacon] , Lesley Hazleton , etc , who was the pioneer of ALGORITHMS : Abdullah al-kharizmi , so lauren is in good company [intelligent + clean]

  • USAF Vet

    Fine Lauren…now go away and take your boobs with you, see ya’ bye!

  • Cpt_Justice

    Sorry; as a Muslim woman, she has to shut up & never say anything without her husbands consent (RME)

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